The pretty cover and the blurb give you an idea of a lovely and sentimental coming of age story about a girl helping her aunt. Who can resist a story like that? Not me. I had to check it out.
Keeping the Ends Loose is the story of Mandy, a 15-year-old girl in junior high, a bookworm who would prefer life in another era; a girl with big dreams of leaving her town and moving to New York or Toronto to have a career. She is also a girl who fears sex and has no interest and time for sexting, nude selfies, etc. Yes, this is our main character.
Mandy lives with her parents, her brother. Other important characters in her life are her “statuesque, tall, willowy and graceful” Aunt Iris and her best friend Barley (yes, that’s her name). Mandy’s world was OK until one day her mom talks to her about her Aunt Iris being in love and unable to marry her new love interest because she hasn’t divorced the guy she married back when she was in college, a man who just disappeared into thin air. Her mother tells her, that they have to do something to find Frank, so Iris can divorce him and move on with her life.
And so we read about Mandy and what she does to fulfill this “noble” cause in favor of her beloved Aunt Iris. What Mandy doesn’t know, is that this quest will lead her to uncover hidden secrets in her mother’s life that affect her once happy family and turn her world into a total dysfunctional crazy one.
The premise of the story is a good one. This book had everything to be one of those powerful lesson filled books. But sadly it was not executed in a good way. It had its good moments, it had some humor, but it also lacked power, and felt contradictory and annoying at times. I’m sorry to say this was not irresistible, I didn’t recognize or relate to any of the characters and this was not an unforgettable life-changing story. This was only an OK read, nothing more.
My beef problem with the book is (read the full review on my blog for more about this):
1.- The main character. The target audience for this book will have a hard time relating to the main character, which in turn won’t motivate them to engage in the story.
2.- I signed up for a story about a girl helping her aunt; instead I got a story about an irrational, immature mother, who made huge mistakes in her youth and chose an inappropriate way to reveal them and clean her conscience. This woman was not fit to be a mom.
3.- There's a double standard in terms of the messages the author wants to communicate to teens:
--> Teens should stay away from sex yet they can get wasted when they can't deal with life.
--> It’s not OK for kids to judge their parents (or anyone) for their mistakes but they can think of them as stupid.
--> Even though it's OK to fear sex, you should do it anyway because you can't go to college all virginal and unwordly.
(read the full review on my blog for more about this)
Despite all of this, I kept reading because the conflict had a promising solution. I hoped the book would leave me with an uplifting message. But it only left me feeling like it was too long of a story for a: Shit Crap Life happens, move on lesson.
Come on! We need to give teens some hope. I’m not saying we should sugar coat their lives and minds with lies, but one of the reasons teens read books is to find stories that help them cope with their woes. Why can’t we show them there’s a light at the end of every tunnel? Teens already know they must go on. We need to give them examples of how they can go on.
I can’t see a teen feeling uplifted or inspired by this story. This book will not leave teens with a sense of closure but with their ends loose.
Needless to say, I don’t see a movie coming out of this YA book. I don’t know who I could recommend this book to. I went ahead and read five 5-star reviews of this book on Goodreads to see who could like this book. They were very succinct reviews from what teenagers would call “old people”. It’s ironic that a book whose target audience is the young adult audience is loved by full grown adults. These reviews made me feel like these people read a completely different book from the one I read.
So based on this and on my honest experience reading the book, I don’t recommend this book for young adults. I would recommend it to adults, as a book to learn what crappy parenting is; in hopes that they don’t even dare to imitate the bad parenting done by the “adults” in this book.
I received an Electronic copy of this book but was not financially compensated in any way nor obliged to review. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my personal experience while reading it. This post contains affiliate links